Boys golf preview: Ridgefield looks to add hardware

Two years removed from the third state title in program history, the Ridgefield High boys golf team has designs on number four this spring.

And with four of its top-five players returning from last year’s team, which finished third at the FCIAC championships, Ridgefield’s ambition is understandable.

“This team has the talent to be one of the best in the league and state,” said head coach Mike Merati, whose squad begins the 2017 season today (April 18) against Trinity Catholic at Sterling Farms Golf Course in Stamford. “If the boys can continue to work hard, stay focused, have fun and play for each other, good things can result come tournament time.”

In senior Connor Looney, the Tigers have a proven ace at the top of the lineup. Looney tied for first place with a 73 in the individual standings at last season’s FCIAC team championship and then shot a one-under par 71 to tie for fourth at the Division I state championship.

Fellow senior Matt Bornstein (a captain along with Looney) would be the number one player on most teams. Bornstein finished 14th at the Hap Holahan Invitational (which serves as the FCIAC individual championship) and also contributed to Ridgefield’s score at the conference team tournament.

“Both are tremendous players and I expect them to earn All-FCIAC and All-State (honors) this year,” said Merati about Looney and Bornstein. “They have the tournament pedigree to come through in the post-season.”

Sophomore Oliver Frossell is another returning starter. “He has worked on this game over the winter and should be ready to have a breakthrough season for the team,” said Merati. “He should be close to breaking 40 in each match.”

Ridgefield’s fourth returning starter is senior Colin Rynne. “He has the ability to be in the lineup for the entire season,” said Merati, “and I believe his experiences from last year bode well for him as this year progresses.”

Sophomore Mark Habeeb might be the frontrunner to fill the starting spot left open with the graduation loss of Patrick Budicini, now playing at the University of Scranton. “He had some varsity action last season and I expect him to break out this year and become a known commodity,” said Merati about Habeeb. “He works hard and is dedicated to the game.”

Also vying for playing time are seniors Dallas Nylen, Neel Kumar, Anthony Borrello, Matteo van Wees, Jack McGeary, Jack Stafford, and Harrison Chuma, as well as freshman Brandon Tuccio. “He (Tuccio) has been impressive on the range thus far in practice,” said Merati. “I am looking forward to what he can do on the course.”

Notes: Playing without Bornstein, Ridgefield finished 17th at last year’s Division I state championship.

Budicini was the Tigers’ top finisher at the Holahan Invitational, placing fifth overall with a 76.

Looney won the two-day Danbury Amateur championship last summer at Richter Park.